There has recently been plenty of controversy surrounding the high-yield bond space and the relevant exchange traded funds.
That controversy included $7.1 billion of outflows for the week ending Aug. 6 and $12.6 billion over the prior four-week period. Outflows are starting to reverse as junk bond mutual funds and ETFs raked in $2.2 billion for the week ending Aug. 20, the second consecutive week of inflows. [A Return to Junk Bond ETFs]
Aside from the usual avenues of accessing junk debt via ETFs, such as the iShares iBoxx $ High Yield Corporate Bond ETF (NYSEArca: HYG) and the SPDR Barclays High Yield Bond ETF (NYSEArca: JNK), investors can protect against interest rate with several hedged high-yield ETFs, all of which are relative newcomers.
The strategy may seem borderline at a time when some traders are rushing to short HYG and JNK, boosting the cost of doing so in the process, and while interest rates remain low, bolstering U.S. Treasuries along the way. [Pricey to Short Junk Bond ETFs]
Still, there is some allure for ETFs such as the ProShares High Yield-Interest Rate Hedged ETF (BATS: HYHG), Market Vectors Treasury-Hedged High Yield Bond ETF (NYSEArca: THHY) and the newest member of high-yield hedged group, the iShares Interest Rate Hedged High Yield Bond ETF (NYSEArca: HYGH). HYGH debuted in late May and has nearly $25 million in assets under management.
HYHG tries to reflect the performance of the Citi High Yield (Treasury Rate-Hedged) Index, which tracks a basket of high-yield bonds with a built-in hedge against rising interest rates. The fund tracks bond securities issued from the U.S. or Canada with at least one year remaining to maturity. Like its rivals, its interest rate defense mechansim is a low or negative duration. In this case, a 30-day SEC yield of 5.64% is accompanied by an effective duration of just 0.32% and a negative modified duration to worst.
“As high yield spreads have widened, they have become more attractive to other fixed income investments. The ratio of high yield to investment grade credit spreads, for example, is now more than 4:1, a level we haven’t seen since October 2012 when the unemployment rate was 7.9%,” said iShares Head of Fixed Income Strategy Matt Tucker in a note out earlier this month.